Monday, July 19, 2010

Quivering Daughters reading notes part 3

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Part 1 of Quivering Daughters notes, HERE
Part 2 of Quivering Daughters notes, Here

I know--this is TOO LONG!! I just had to put it all down--ok?

As I continue in my slow, thorough reading of Hillary McFarland's new book Quivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy I have to constantly stop and remind myself that I'm reading about CHRISTIAN families--families who read, study and believe the same Bible I do. Who accept the same Lord as their Savior. All too frequently, I am lost in the thought that I'm in some monogamous off-shoot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)--the "Church/Cult," led by Warren Jeffs, of polygamous Mormons made famous by the raid on the YFZ Ranch in Texas in which hundreds of children were taken into state custody.

While reading the gut-wrenching and heartfelt prose of Hillary and the other "Quivering Daughters," I also picked up Carloyn Jessop's memoir "Triump: Life After the Cult--a Survivor's Lessons." I was mesmerized by her earlier account of her escape from the FLDS, and have read nearly everything available on the FLDS, so it was natural I'd grab this one from the new books shelf at the library. The similarities between the FLDA andQuiverfull/ Patriarchal Christian families are just plan stunning.

Among these similarities that I will discuss in this post are:
The often tremendously abusive "discipline" or "training" of children--even of infants and toddlers and theemphasis on instant, unquestioning obedience to any "command" no matter how trivial.

I have recently listened to the partriarchy (Part I and Part II) and militant fecundity podcasts of blogger "That Mom"--Karen Campbell. What follows are my attempts to synthesize all these sources of information.

Carolyn recounts:All my experience in the FLDS centered on the need to use harsh discipline to mold a child. The prophet Rulon Jeffs once siad 'If you have not taught your children obedience by the time they are three years old, you may lose them.'" (Jessop, 2010, p. 207)

In their book and possibly elsewhere, Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar of TV's "19 Kids and Counting,"a Quiverfull family to the extreme, recount playing games with obedience. Tempting their kids with silly request that encourage them to stop and think and not obey. They attempt to show this as good clean fun--ignoring the sinister message underneath.

For the kids to not obey even the silliest request would, of course, be WRONG! They are to obey ANY command from ANY adult willingly, immediately and cheerfully. Not to do so should bring swift punishment and, equally damning, extreme parental disappointment and even anger. The blogger "Razing Ruth" describes such "games"as played in her own ATI/Quiverfull Family HERE. She also describes other training in her family that was typical of other ATI families HERE.

But child "training" gurus such as Michael and Debi Pearl--a popular duo in the Quiverfull child training world, give this example of violent, hurtful discipline even to a nursing infant:
One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. [We] did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, [Mother] PULLED HAIR [emphasis added] (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies). Understand, the baby is not being punished, just conditioned. (Pearl at LINK)
It's not clean how the poor baby is to know he is merely being "conditioned" and not disciplined. In response to a reader's question about a fussy 7 month old who didn't like to go down for the night the Pearls [who in fairness] did say first and foremost a comforting established bedtime ritual was very, very helpful in getting infants down for the night, BUT if that doesn't work they advocate this:
As a last resort, you may have to prove the power of your word by enforcing it with one or two stinging licks (applied with a small flexible switch) to the child’s leg that says to the child, “There is no reward for getting up; Mama means business; she is not going to give over to my demands; the path to greatest pleasure is to go to sleep; there is no alternative; my parents always get their way; what can I say? Good night.” Commands are not negotiable; authority must be obeyed. (Pearls link HERE)
Other child training gurus, such as Bill Gothard, are equally clear on commands being instantly obeyed. Gothard's Advance Training Institute (ATI) homeschool curriculum teaches children proper behavior by studying the 49 Character Qualities.

At the blog "No Longer Quivering" guest author Shelly Cruz writes of her descent into ATI/IBLP parenting by describing getting to know, and at that time envy, a family in Bill Gothard's ATI organization. One night the two couples went out to dinner, while the ATI family's eldest daughter watched all the kids.

I was always amazed at the cheerful spirit all these children had. Not one child, moaned, or complained about having to leave. All the children got up off the floor and began to put their shoes and coats on with perfect little smiles, thanking my husband and I, for having them over, before they headed out the front door, in perfect school line form, youngest to oldest.[Link HERE]
Just like the wives and children of the FLDS who must always, "Keep Sweet" these perfect little ATI children did exactly what they were told instantly, willingly and cheerfully. Who wouldn't want children like that! As benign as these "Character Qualities" may seem (and there is certainly no harm what-so-ever in developing a good character!) too rigid an application of anything can lead to abuse. And, as we've seen above, there is generally swift and severe punishment for disobedience.

Indianapolis tv station WISH chronicled the well-documented tales of abuse and extreme disciplinary practices at Gothard's Indianapolis training center several years ago. (WISH transcript HERE.) Children locked in "prayer closets" and extreme corporal punishment were among the charges. These practices mirror those discussed elsewhere by former ATI/IBLP members.

This type discipline has been named the "sin of partiality." "That Mom", blogger Karen Campbell, speaks to this in her podcast series on the Patriarchy HERE. She speaks of parents "Lording over the children" their power and authority. This "sin" gives parents the "right" to humiliate their children as well as to punish them. She also mentions that Vision Forum has even discussed the STONING of wayward adult children!!! (link here)

Carolyn writes of the FLDS [and everyone]:

A mother has the right to teach her children about religion. But she doesn't have the right to injure them or allow others to do so, even if she believes that the man hurting her children is a prophet of God. (Jessop, p. 25)
Yet, in her book Hillary writes of obedience as it is truly presented in scripture:
Note that while our Heavenly Father wants us to obey, as out patient Helper, He helps us obey. He knows we can't do it without Him. He doesn't sit back and tempt us as some parenting 'experts' do. (McFarland, 2010, p. 51).
How can it be that the Bible teaches one thing and, in the name of the Lord, Quiverfull families often practice something very different? [I know not ALL families are abusive.] Hillary also offers a helpful comparison between "Authoritative Parents and AuthoriTARIAN Parents," (p 51-52).

Authoritarian parenting...differs greatly from authoritative. While godly authority seeks to parent after the heart of God, submitting their authority to His own, authoritarian parents derive power from status--a runaway version of: I am the mom. I am the dad. Obey without question. (p. 51)
On page 52 Hillary offers a helpful chart to illuminate the differences in the two styles. The heart of the difference is simple: Authoritative parenting "RESPONDS to the child" while AuthoriTARIAN parenting "REACTS to the child." (p. 52). Authoritative parents respect the individual child; authoriTARIAN parents demand respect from the child by whatever means necessary. Like many Quiverfull families, the FLDS stresses, even demands, AuthoriTARIAN parenting.

The idea of allowing a child to grow and flourish creatively contradicted every FLDS notion of parenting. This attitude of control and domination over children goes right to the heart of the religion. [Mormon founder] Brigham Young....said 'I would rather see every child I have go into the grave this day than suffer them to rise up and have control over me."(Jessop, 2010, pp. 207-208). Jessop's book (as well as her previous book) give many examples of this type parenting.
"That Mom" blogger, Karen Campbell, offers the chilling example of a Nazi death camp as the perfect illustration of what happens when parents trust dutifully the
"fruits of following a leader whose life was marked by unGodly wisdom, insatiable quest for heirarchy and commitment to unquestioning obediance to man-made authority." (Link HERE to podcast.)

While much of this type training is directed at young children or even infants, "training" does not end with puberty. Growing into young adulthood and even real adulthood does not see a Quiverfull child enter the freedom most people their age take for granted. Far from it. It is at this time of life that emotional and spiritual abuse are used. Simply put the kids are bigger and could fight back against physical punishments. Instead of merely controlling children physically, parents turn to controlling their teenager and young adults "thoughts, decisions, will and future" (McFarland, 2010, p. 103). "Cognitive dissonances" raises it's ugly head for real at this time in life.

Within an authoritarian family, it is impossible to raise legitimate concerns about beliefs, convictions, or way of life, and asking questions.....without it being perceived as a threat to authority and family values (McFarland, 2010, 105).

And, while God forgives all--Jesus died for OUR sins after all, the authoritarian parent
"instead focuses its attention on the shortcomings of the children, and this makes it very difficult for them to be at peace with their parents (McFarland, 2010, p. 50).
Diana, A "Quivering Daughter" quoted in Hillary's book explains how this worked in her life:
Because my parents wanted to follow God, the tried to follow the standards listed in the Biblical Patriarch articles. They controlled me to such a degree that I could not do anything on my own My entire future was laid out for me--I would stay at home and care for my younger brothers, make meals, garden, sew, play music and have some type of home business until 'Mr. Right' came along (McFarland, 2o1o, p. 60).
Another tactic used to control older children is "snitching." Turning in siblings for transgressions of rules, bad thoughts, inappropriate questions about just about anything all warrant one sibling snitching on another. Often with praise for the snitch.

Guest author "Erika" told one such story in her post at the No Longer Quivering blog:

[This took place after a driver's ed class at a local public school] A conversation started outside after Driver’s Ed about Jesus and Mary. Someone asked how it could be possible that Jesus was born to a virgin. I made the mistake of saying, right in front of my sister, “Perhaps Mary was artificially inseminated.” As soon as it came out of my mouth, I knew I’d be in big trouble at home as soon as my sister told my parents what I’d said.... My sister and I walked home in silence but the first thing she did when she walked in the door was squeal on me to my parents first about who I had been hanging out with and secondly, what I had said. If there was anything I could count on from my sister back then, it was that anything I said and did, if she was in earshot and eyesight, it would make its way back to my parents.... there were consequences to what I’d said.... My father pulled me aside and gave me a stern lecture that lasted around a half hour. I was told how bad the company was that I was hanging out with and how blasphemous I was. My punishment was to do a 6 page essay on the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ, complete with scripture verses to back it all up. (Link HERE)

Carolyn Jessop quotes her ex-husband Merrill on the "virtue" of snitching:
Reporting can be seen as trying to get another person into trouble by being a snitch. But in reality if someone is straying from the work of God, report to me [Father] is one of the most merciful things that can be done for them. (Merrill Jessop quoted in Jessop, 2010, p 141). The consequences of this philosophy of parenting? " No one acted out of repect for [Father]. Fear and coercion determined our choices" (Jessop, 2010, p. 146)
What happens when the kids can't take it any more and DO rebel?? Some do find a way to leave--it isn't as easy as people often think to "just walk out the door." Blogger "Razing Ruth" is one such child. Her brother wrote of the effect her departure from the family had on their father--a high-ranking member of the Gothard organization.

When she left she embarrassed him. She did the right thing for her and I will always stand behind her, it's still true that she laid his reputation on the line by exiting when and how she did and he can't get over her defiance. (Link to post HERE).

However, when this same brother chose to leave their father treated him somewhat differently:

He treats me better than Ruth because I was involved in a business with him until just recently. He sees my leaving as different than Ruth's because I left quietly and my marriage resulted from the courting process.... (Link HERE).

Too often older children in both Quiverfull and FLDS homes are branded as wayward, apostate, evil or [fill in the blank] and parents often have Church elders ex-communicate them or the parents themselves force them to leave--usually citing the bad influence they are having on younger siblings. A typical Quiverfull story of rebellion, albeit one that appears to finally have a happy ending is in the Jueb family, once profiled on TLC's "Kids by the Dozen" series.

Our conflict with Alicia was a complex one that lasted nearly three years. She went through a troubling state of rebellion that included a rebellious attitude that was rubbing off on the younger children. As her parents, we decided the best thing for the entire family was to remove her from the family. Her behavior, in our opinion, was destructive not only to herself, but to the entire family. (Link HERE)
In reality the parents are often more concerned with the long-lasting feel of the challenge to their "God-given" authority. The FLDS "Lost Boys" are the young men who were unwanted in the community due to the need of older, higher ranking men to take more and younger wives. Those young men were a very obvious threat, so they were driven out [often literally driven somewhere and left] to fend for themselves.

Both the "Lost Boys" and the ex-Quiverfull teens are very vulnerable to terrible exploitation in the "outside," "Gentile," or "real" world. Often poorly educated, raised to obey anyone in authority, poorly socialized [in the TRUE meaning of the word] and taught to fear (and in some cases to hate) people outside their closed religious community, these kids often end up in terrible circumstances--at least at first. There are few resources to help them and most of the teens wouldn't trust or know how to find help. (Jessop and "That Mom," June 2, 2010 podcast)

Next week I will complete my reading notes and commentary on Quivering Daughters.
For more information on the Quiverfull Movement, visit the blogs linked in this post as well as my opinion-neutral blog A Quiver Full of Information

You can listen to "That Mom," Karen Campbell, interview "Quivering Daughters" author Hillary McFarland HERE.


Pebblekeeper said...

I am so enjoying reading your reviews - We had a quiver full friend who played the switch game. They would have to obey a silly command within a certain time frame with perfect happy face, or get a real swat. Seriously? Have they run out of time to play Skippo? Board games teach how to be obedient to rules patience, preserverance, being a good winner and a good looser, Learning Strategy without being sneakily ruthless. Um, the swtich game? We have no need for that. I was caught up in a circle of these families and their way of thinking got in a bit - I have been out for about 9 months or so - and have really come to my senses!

Hopewell said...

I'm glad you made it out! Where we have always lived about 99% of homeschoolers are at least "sympathetic" to Quiverfull. It's very tempting when you see "perfect" children.....until you realize they are operating on conditioned response and not sincerity!

Lewis said...

Interesting and frightening parallels.